A huge thank you and deep bow to our Armed Forces for their courage and care in Iraq, in what now appears to be the successful liberation of the Iraqi people – and no small measure of appreciation on their part. For all the challenges and hazards that remain, and all the sadness over the lives lost, and all the frustration that we somehow alienated so much of the world in the way we went about it, this is still a day to give our men and women in uniform an even sharper salute than usual.

And now (anti-climactically) back to what I posted last night:


Steven Noble: ‘On April 2 you referenced an item from ‘ABC News.’ This reference is to the ‘Australian Broadcasting Corporation.’ They certainly have every right to call themselves ABC, but when referencing them this should perhaps be clarified.’

☞ Right you are. I saw ABC and just assumed it was ‘our’ ABC. But the Australians are not exactly from another planet, even though they do all live upside down.

That item was headlined: US soldiers in Iraq asked to pray for Bush and began, ‘They may be the ones facing danger on the battlefield, but US soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for President George W Bush.’

So now comes this item from the Miami Herald, which may or may not be as reliable as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, headlined Army chaplain offers baptisms, baths and begins, ‘In this dry desert world . . . there’s an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water. It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity. ‘It’s simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized,’ he said. And agree they do. Every day, soldiers take the plunge for the Lord and come up clean for the first time in weeks. . . . First, though, the soldiers have to go to one of Llano’s hour-and-a-half sermons in his dirt-floor tent. Then the baptism takes an hour of quoting from the Bible. ‘Regardless of their motives,’ Llano said, ‘I get the chance to take them closer to the Lord.”

Makes sense to me. Or if not sense, at least it doesn’t worry me as much as the prayers that begin each of our nation’s Cabinet meetings, and the suggestion that our President believes his foreign policy is a divine calling. I do not begrudge him his faith in any way. But I would like our foreign policy to be entirely logic, rather than even a little faith, based.


Frank Alejano: ‘In the interest of fairness, how did the Clinton administration handle the reporting of the Social Security surplus [that you decried Monday]? Did they treat it as spendable revenue, as Bush is doing it, or did they actually set it aside as reserves for future obligations, as promised?’

☞ Great question, and one that several of you asked. I now kick myself for not including the answer in Monday’s column. I originally did have it in (“In fairness … ” that little section began), but it was interrupting the flow of an already dense column and I decided to snip it out.  Not my best decision.  Anyway, the short answer is that Clinton/Gore used the same accounting gimmick as Bush (and previous administrations) until near the end of their term, when they began at least to point out that the budget wasn’t really in surplus if the Social Security surplus had to be treated as revenue in order to get it there.  (Even with that, the budget went into real surplus in the last year or two of Clinton/Gore.)  I can’t remember how explicit this acknowledgement was – probably not explicit enough – but the oft-repeated shorthand for it was:  “Don’t squander the surplus; save Social Security first.”  This mantra was more than lip service for Clinton/Gore and Gore/Lieberman.  Bush/Cheney promised a “a lockbox” as well, but canned that once they were elected, cutting taxes for the very best off instead.  (And no, kids, you are not in the top 1% unless your taxable income is well in excess of $300,000 a year.)

Bill: “I registered Democrat for the first time ever this year (after registering Republican since 1984).”

Michael Irwin:  “Uh-oh.”


Comments are closed.